NSW grasswrens, specimens, old records and future searches?

Subject: NSW grasswrens, specimens, old records and future searches?
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2003 09:26:51 +1100

Hello all,

Over the last couple of days I've had a closer look at some of the literature regarding grasswrens in NSW. I've got a few questions that I was hoping people might be able to help me with.

Question 1.
Ian McAllan (1987) refers to a specimen that was collected in either 1890 or 1896. It was probably collected from Coronga Peak, on Coronga Down Station which is NE of Cobar. It currently resides in the National Museum of Victoria and is registered as HLW 2752. According to McAllan, John Waugh climbed Coronga Peak in the 1970's and found spinifex on the peak itself but not in the surrounding country. Certainly the info that I have to hand suggests that there is no mallee in the area- mulga and callitris- bimble box woodland are more common vegetation communities up this way.

What interests me about this specimen is that presumably came from a rocky environment with spinifex as opposed to the mallee with spinifex on sandplains that the striated grasswrens are found in well to the south-west.  I'm interested in whether anyone has had a close look at this specimen to compare it with other striated grasswren specimens and....... dare I say it....... short-tailed grasswren specimens.  I'm sure that this possibility has already been looked at and so I'm not rushing down to Melbourne to have a look- but it would ease my mind if I know that somebody has already looked at it.

Question 2.
Spinifex areas on the road from Enngonia to Job's Gate in north-western NSW. I visited this area with my parents when I was young tyke and remember parts of it well. Mind you I wouldn't have known a grasswren if I'd tripped over it then. Has anybody searched these areas for grasswrens?

Question 1.
McAllan (2000) mentions the possibility of Thick-bills being in the Grey Range of north-west NSW based on the collection of 2 specimens by Macgillivray in 1912 and observations of Len Harvey in 1956. The location of the Macgillivray records are a bit vague but the Harvey observation was estimated by McAllan to be "north of Tibooburra on the Wompah Gate road possibly in the Mount Wood Hills,  an easterly spur of the Grey Range". Some of this area is in the Sturt NP. I've been through this area but was unaware of these records before and so didn't even think of looking for the species .

My question is- has anybody specifically searched for thick-billed grasswrens in this area?

Any advice or info greatly appreciated.




I. A. W. McAllan. Early records of the Thick-billed Grasswren Amytornis textilis and Striated Grasswren  Amytornis striatus in New South Wales. Australian Birds 21 (2):33-42, 1987.

I. A. W. McAllan. On some New South Wales Records of the Grey Grasswren and the Thick-billed Grasswren. Australian Bird Watcher. 18(6) :244-246, 2000.

Michael Todd
Biodiversity Planning Officer
PO Box 1049
Griffith, NSW, 2680
Phone- 02 69668122

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